FLORIDA — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is calling for further investigation into whether billionaire Mike Bloomberg violated a state statute when he reportedly raised $16 million to help felons vote in the upcoming presidential election.
“Today, I sent a letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into potential violations of election laws,” Moody said in a statement provided to Fox News.
“I have instructed the statewide prosecutor to work with law enforcement and any statewide grand jury that the governor may call,” she said.
Just a day before, Bloomberg announced the hefty sum would go toward paying restitution and court fines that prevent Florida felons from voting.
House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. pounced on the news of Bloomberg’s donation Tuesday night, urging Moody to take up a criminal investigation against Bloomberg.
“[Under Florida law] it’s a third-degree felony for someone to either directly or indirectly provide something of value to impact whether or not someone votes,” Gaetz said. “So the question is whether or not paying off someone’s fines and legal obligations counts as something of value, and it clearly does.”
Gaetz on Wednesday praised Moody’s actions to investigate the donations.
Bloomberg’s billions will not buy Florida.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 23, 2020
A portion of the Florida statutes governing electors and elections code states, “Any person who gives anything of value that is redeemable in cash to any person in consideration for his or her becoming a registered voter commits a felony of the third degree.”
The law excludes services such as transportation or baby-sitting that would require payment to allow a voter to register.
Another statute stipulates that “no person shall directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to another intending thereby to buy that person’s or another’s vote.”
Bloomberg’s donation went to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which has raised about $5 million for the same initiative.
The billionaire isn’t the only high profile individual making money for FRRC. Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has also collaborated with the coalition, Law Officer reported.
Bloomberg made calls to raise almost $17 million more, according to his staffers, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Just days before, the former mayor of New York City pledged another $100 million to the state of Florida on behalf of Biden’s election efforts.
The red tape surrounding felon voting stems from a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and upheld by a court ruling in September.
The bill stipulates that felons must pay all fines, restitution and other legal financial obligations before their sentences could be considered fully served and they are allowed to vote, Fox reported.
The issue is made even more pressing by the upcoming election in November, particularly because Florida, with its Republican-held legislature, is a key battleground state, with 29 electoral votes up for grabs.
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